Very simply, Folding@Home is a computer simulation of protein folding ran on computers all over the world.

Proteins are the building blocks of biology because they can do many different jobs. Proteins start as a long chain of amino acids. However, to determine what job the protein will do, the protein must take a particular shape. The protein will “fold” itself into it’s shape and be able to do it’s job.

Most of the time, protein folding works great. But sometimes proteins misfold and do not fold correctly. This misfolding is believed to be the cause of some diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, some form of Cancer, and BSE (Mad Cow disease).

It takes a long time to simulate one protein folding. In nature proteins fold on the microsecond scale (or millonths of a second). Simulating just one nanosecond (one billionth of a second) on a computer takes about one day. So just to simulate one protein folding would take about thirty years! And there are many different proteins. By splitting the job accross many computers, the simulation process can be done much faster. By running the Folding@Home program on your computer, you are participating in this simulation and helping research get done much faster.


2 Responses to “What is Folding@Home?”

  1. October 2, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Very nice article Clint! Hopefully there will be more people joining Folding@Home so we can find the cure sooner rather than later!!

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